A trio of nonprofits filed an initial batch of 1,000 signatures Monday to kick-off an effort to place congressional redistricting reform on the November 2017 or 2018 ballot. The proposed ballot issue would closely follow a legislative redistricting proposal that voters overwhelmingly supported in 2015. The goal is to dampen the political gerrymandering that allows the political party in control to draw districts to its benefit, creating few competitive seats and securing the party’s majority status. “This is a critical effort to ensure fair districts and fair elections for every congressional seat in Ohio,” said Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “When members of Congress have safe seats drawn to guarantee which party wins, the real losers are the voters.”
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
New electronic poll books for elections are supposed to make voting faster, more accurate and more secure, but Butler County commissioners don’t like the state’s “use it or lose it” policy regarding money to pay for them. County elections officials presented a plan Monday to spend $524,900 on the new technology. The state will pick up the lion’s share, $394,465, for the equipment, but county leaders said the catch is the elections board must be under contract with the vendor by May 31 or the money will vanish. “I don’t like the state saying you have to use it or lose,” Commissioner Don Dixon said. “I think if they are going to allocate that money, then if we have a plan to bundle that with something else, and it may be a year before we’re there, we should be allowed to do that.”
Monday is the final day that Franklin County residents can register for the May primary. Voters will weigh in on 16 different issues, including for members of City Council and the Board of Education. In 2017, Ohio became the 38th state to implement online voter registration. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, this minor modernization has a number of benefits. According the Pew report, online registration is more accessible, especially for young adults who tend to move more frequently. And because it’s instantly cross checked by records at the BMV, it’s more accurate than the standard paper system.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County picks electronic polling vendor that had previous election snafu | Watchdog.org
An elections vendor recently got a contract to operate electronic poll books in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County beginning this November despite major issues in another Ohio county in 2015 that caused a judge to keep the polls open later. Cuyahoga County’s elections director tells Watchdog.org, however, that his county plans a gradual ramp-up and has safeguards in place to avoid previous electronic polling pitfalls. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections agreed in February to contract with Tampa, Florida-based Tenex Software Solutions for electronic poll books beginning with the 2017 general election. The board will pay $1.7 million for the 1,450 books, with the state picking up 85 percent of the cost. This will allow the county to replace those bulky paper rosters of registered voters at each polling location as election officials phase in the software during upcoming elections prior to November. But, as Hamilton County discovered, new technology can sometimes have detrimental effects on elections.
The Ohio Senate has again moved legislation eliminating primary elections if races are not contested. SB 10 passed on a vote of 32-0 and heads to the Ohio House for further consideration. The bill would require that uncontested primary races not appear on ballots; candidates who filed for such races would automatically receive their party’s nomination.
Ohio: Homeless advocates ask U.S. Supreme Court to take up Ohio voter disenfranchisement case | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Advocates for the homeless who have waged a multi-year legal battle to challenge Ohio’s provisional and absentee ballot rules are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their case. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic Party filed its petition Friday. The groups say large groups of minority voters have been disenfranchised solely because of technical errors and omissions on voter ballot forms for absentee and provisional ballots. The petition says a federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled differently than the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether private citizens can sue to enforce a certain provision of federal law pertaining to voting. The provision prohibits denying the right to vote based on missing or incorrect information on applications that do not prevent election workers from confirming a voter’s eligibility.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office has found 82 additional non-U.S. citizens who registered and voted in at least one election in Ohio. Husted announced today that his office discovered a total of 385 non-citizens improperly registered in 2015, including those who voted. Coupled with similar findings in 2013 and 2015, Husted reported a total of 821 non-citizens have been identified, with 126 of them having voted in the period. While the numbers may look significant, a tiny percentage of those discovered in two previous inquiries were pursued and prosecuted for voter fraud. Of 44 people referred for prosecution in two previous elections, Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office said eight were prosecuted and five were convicted. one was reported to a diversion program, and the records were sealed in two cases so the disposition is not known.
Ohioans would be automatically registered to vote when renewing their driver’s license, signing up for public assistance or turning 18, under a bill introduced in the Ohio House. Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Kent Democrat, said voter registration should be easy and that automatically enrolling people would encourage higher voter participation. “There are endless ways to use voter registration rules to deter and confuse voters, and we need to take away this weapon of voter oppression,” Clyde said during a Thursday press conference. Under House Bill 14, people would be automatically registered to vote if they’ve received veterans’ or disability services or public assistance through the Department of Job and Family Services and when they get a driver’s license or state ID card. Public and private school students would be registered when they turn 18.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County Board of Elections chooses Tenex as electronic poll book vendor | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cuyahoga County voters will check in on electronic poll books beginning in November, using equipment from Tenex Software Solutions. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections unanimously approved the purchase on Tuesday, following a recommendation by director Pat McDonald and his staff at its meeting last month. The board authorized officials to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the company, state and county, McDonald said in an email. The board will buy 1,450 electronic poll books at a cost of $1.7 million. The state is paying 85 percent of the cost. Electronic poll books will replace the large, paper rosters of registered voters at each voting location. The county plans to phase in the software during primary and special elections before launching them countywide in November.
A special election with just one candidate on the ballot cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and some state lawmakers are trying to prevent that from ever happening again. Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, hopes passage of a new state law will avoid what he called the future waste of taxpayer money on special elections that involve just one candidate on the ballot. The proposal, which Koehler co-sponsored, arose last year when Democratic 8th District candidate Corey Foister dropped out of the race. A special election was required to pick a replacement, but only one Democrat, Steven Fought, stepped forward to run. Clark County Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said the resulting Sept. 13 special election was mandated by law, and local boards had no choice.